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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, January 28, 2005
By Brian Bailey

Smiles hard to come by against stiff schedule


Coach Bill Herrion sat before the media to talk about East Carolina’s 60-53 win over Saint Louis on Wednesday night. It looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off of his shoulders.

He opened the news conference by using his hands to physically make himself smile. He joked that his face had been frozen for the past couple of months. That’s what an 0-6 start in league play does to a coach.

The gesture was so simple, but it said so much. Even something as simple as a smile doesn’t come easy at East Carolina.

“Obviously there has been a tremendous amount of frustration surrounding this basketball program,” Herrion said. “You can feel it. No one has talked to me for about a month and a half in this town. I’ve been on my own.”

The Pirates' winning formula combines spirit, grit, determination and effort. East Carolina doesn’t shoot the ball all that well, but it surely can rebound.

Experience has shown that the team can win only if it outworks its opponent. The Pirates did that against the Billikens, especially in the second half.

“The key to the game was only being down by five at the half,” said Herrion. “Moussa (Badiane) and Corey (Rouse) were in big foul trouble, but we hung tough.

“I told the guys at halftime that we had to guard them. They shot 58 percent from the field in the first half, so we had to do a better job.”

ECU vaulted out of the gate with a 12-0 run to start the second half. Give credit to the students, alias the Minges Maniacs, who did their part to give the Pirates a home court edge that they would certainly need down the stretch.

Also give credit to each one of the Pirate players, who contributed as necessary in that second half to finally get the monkey off of the program’s back.

Herrion really liked the play of Mike Cook. Cook is the one guy on this team that can create his own shot. He doesn’t protect the basketball well enough at times, but when he plays well, so do the Pirates.

“I thought Mike Cook played his best game of the year,” said Herrion. “He did a good job all the way around.”

Rouse, who along with Moussa was in foul trouble early, controlled the glass in the second half.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with that many fouls away from the ball that quickly in the first half. It seemed like every screen was an illegal one. Funny, but either the Pirates learned how to screen at halftime, or the officials decided to start looking the other way.

Despite the 1-6 league start, I still say the future is bright for Pirate basketball. Next year’s league makeup will certainly help, as will a couple of players — David Bell and Jeremy Ingram — that are sitting out.

Freshman Josh King is only going to get more comfortable with his role. He can shoot the lights out and gets better every time he’s in the game.

Badiane is all set to break the all-time record for blocked shots in Conference USA. Badiane needs just two blocks against Charlotte to break former Cincinnati great Kenyon Martin’s all-time mark.

The 49ers come comes to town on Saturday. Ironically, both Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Cincinnati’s Bob Huggins have said that Charlotte may be the league’s most talented team. Thus, the season of tough opponents continues for Bill Herrion.

“Our schedule in the league has been brutal,” Herrion said. “When you’re playing the Cincinnatis, the Louisvilles, the DePauls, the UABs, it’s hard. You have to play so well and so hard and so over your head just to stay with these guys.”

The Pirates will be home underdogs against the 49ers, so it will take a great effort to put another smile on Bill Herrion’s face on Saturday.

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02/23/2007 01:31:25 AM

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